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29 August 2005

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Ckrisz

Great post! I was wondering if Rumsfeld's reforms and basing decisions have already achieved an institutional momentum of their own, or if this trend could possibly be reversed by succeeding Administrations? Is there any thought at the higher levels of the military with regards to alternatives to this?

Also, I'd like to hear what you think about Tom Ricks' theory about the separation between military and civilian spheres:

http://www.wcfia.harvard.edu/olin/publications/workingpapers/civil_military/no3.htm

Pat Lang

Ckriz

You sound like you don't want an Army made up of people for whom family is less important than soldiering. Is that true?

Ricks? His reporting on the military would be better if he had ever served.

The process of socialization of recruits which he marvels at is quite normal and should be expected. War as a trade demands attitudes, chatacteristics and standards different than those required in civilian life. Those who will follow this trade will be different. The question really is "how much different?" And how will the American people deal with soldiers like the one(presumably a marine) who wrote to me this morning to say that marines don't care what the American people think of them.

Actually, I think he is mistaken given the amount of time and trouble that the US Marine Corps devotes to its public relations. pl

Diana

"In other words a life of repeated an routine separation from family would be the norm."

Janissaries?

Ckrisz

COL Lang,

I would like to see a military whose main body (the Army) remains connected to American society in a fundamental way. I understand that the military operates on a different set of values, but they should not be values that the military (or society) comes to see as fundamentally at odds with those of wider American society. I think we all understand the dangers of that.

Pat Lang

Ckrisz

Which values do you have in mind as fundamentally "at odds with those of wider American society?"

pl

Pat Lang

Diana,

I know what Janissaries were. What's the connection? pl

Diana

Sorry, I was asking a question a bit too cryptically. Since you mentioned the "monastic" quality of these non-family-man troops, I am asking whether this is the creation of a janissary-type corps.

Pat Lang

Diana,

There are a lot of examples of in history of soldiers who are of this type. I tried to point out that we had an army more like this and it had no particular ill effect.

My question was not about the soldiers. It was about the civilians. pl

James McKenzie-Smith

Dear Sir,

Trivial historical note. The Royal Monmouthsires are far older than the Coldstream Guards, having been founded in 1539. In terms of precedence, they are the oldest Regiment in the British Army. The Honourable Artillery Company, founded in 1537, is older but was on the Parliamentary side during the civil war, and so lost its precedence.

Pat Lang

James,

Not trivial to me.

Are the Monmouthshires still in existence?

Our oldest unit is the 182nd Infantry Regiment of the Massachusetts National Guard. It was founded in 1636 as the "North Regiment of Militia." It still exists and, I believe that one of its battalions has been has been deployed in the present unpleasantness.

The oldest Regular unit is one of the batteries of the 5th Artillery Regiment which is known honorifically as "Alexander Hamilton's Battery."

Patrick Lang

James McKenzie-Smith

Dear Sir,

The Monmouthshires still exist, and are currently a combat engineering unit in the TA.

http://www.army.mod.uk/rmonre/

McGee

Hi Colonel,

Don't know if you'd seen this review yet of "The Sling and the Stone" on fourth generation warfare (4GW) by Marine Colonel Thomas Hammes at the National Defense University? Seems appropriate to this discussion:

http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/05autumn/aut-rev.html

I personally doubt we stand a chance of ever 'winning' a 4GW conflict without a massive investment in language training and instruction in local culture and history. Unless of course we in the future confine ourselves to fighting small english-speaking countries.... Cheers!

Ckrisz

COL Lang,

I think I expressed myself incorrectly. I am concerned to what extent the military defines itself in opposition to what it views as American societal values: materialism, individualism, careerism, etc. If those in the military feel little but contempt for civilian society and its leadership, this is a dangerous trend. If middle class America increasingly sees the military as an unviable career path, then civilian society may return that contempt.

Remember that the American military during the period before WWII was not viewed as a respectable, middle class career. This resulted in both civilian distaste for the military and correspondingly low budgets.

I think too much of a return to an expeditionary-style force would have negative repercussions for the U.S. in both civilian and military sectors.

Pat Lang

Ck

So, you don't come from an Army family?
pl

Pat Lang

McGee

I know the author and have discussed his book with him.

The idea that somehow warfare and the world have changed is just silly and indicative of a lack of historical knowledge. pl

Pat Lang

James McKenzie-Smith

Dear Sir,

Very interesting. You have ruined one of my favorite trivia points. How will I dine out in the future?

I must point out, though, that we kept many Confederate units in our Regimental System and they are in the National Guard. For example, The "Stonewall Brigade" is now the 116th Infantry Regiment of the Virginia National Guard.

pl

searp

It seems to me that this may be inevitable. If we stick to a relatively small Army and a high optempo, then life in the services will become very difficult indeed for family men and women.

Ckrisz

COL Lang,

Not a U.S. Army family. My father and maternal grandfather were career Taiwan military (grandfather fought on KMT side in Sino-Japanese War, Burma Theater, and Chinese Civil War) before emigration to the U.S. Thus the dangers of a divorce between the armed forces and the civilian population are perhaps keener in my mind than they would be otherwise.

Pat Lang

Ck

Interesting. My family has served since 1861. Some Army, some Navy.

My uncle John was Chief Quartermaster of USS Panay, sunk by the Japanese on the Yangtse in 1937. He also held a master mariner's license and a commission as a Lieutenant Commander in the Chinese Navy acquired when an earlier ship of his was loaned to the Chinese government for survey work way up the river.

His picture is in the Navy Museum in Washington for the Panay incident. pl

Pat Lang

ck

Since your grandfather served in Burma I should have asked if he was in the 38th ROC Division under Sun Li-Jen.

General Sun was one of the most distinguished graduates of VMI and a great friend of General Stilwell.

Pat Lang

Ckrisz

Yes. My grandfather served as a lieutenant commanding an infantry company in the New 38th Division, later absorbed into the New First Army. Sun Lijen was the only commander he had in the KMT Army where he and his soldiers actually received their full pay. After Sun was arrested by Jiang on trumped-up charges in 1955, my grandfather was one of many who resigned his commission in protest and was thrown in jail for a year.

COL Lang, that is some interesting info about your uncle. He must have had some pretty amazing stories to tell.

Pat Lang

Ck,

you may have know Geneal "Pat" Wan who, I believe may have served with Sun. I can never remember General Wan's Chinese firse name, but his classmates at VMI always called him Pat. I met him when He visited West Point on a couple of occasions to visit his father's grave there.

My uncle John was a fabulous character. He was an infantryman in the Canadian Army in WW1 and then went into the US Navy. He spent many years in China on several gunboats, among them, Panay.

He had two Navy Crosses, 14 Purple Hearts, and the Japanese Order of the Chrysanthemum (second class). He was retired for wounds after WW2.

Pat

ckrisz

COL Lang,

Perhaps you met Gen. Wen Ha-hsiung, former commander of the ROC Combined Services Force General Headquarters? I think he was also responsible for translating the official ROC history of the Sino-Japanese War into English.

Your uncle sounds like he lived the fullest of lives! Truly remarkable.

Ian Welsh

A smaller less powerful army is more in line with what the founders had in mind and an army which is less family oriented will actually be more deployable, as Pat notes. The prior post is more troublesome, as it indicates an army meant to fight brushfire wars. But then the question should be re-asked - why does the US need an army the size (and cost) that it has now. Who is it meant to fight? The Neocons have a couple answers to that, but neither of them (China or brushfire wars) should be very comforting to those who believe the US should largely stay out of the affairs of other nations.

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